It’s been a long journey for Ramblin’ Road.
The Spokane operation started distributing beer around town on a limited basis at the end of 2012 but didn’t finish its full-scale brewery and taproom until last month.
“I can’t believe we’ve made it. It’s a dream come true,” said co-owner Brian Guthrie, who’s put his legal practice on hold to pursue the venture.
Guthrie, 30, and his wife Dani, 29, an elementary music teacher, moved from Spokane to Seattle for college and began brewing there about five years ago.
When they got serious, he said, “We debated whether put the brewery in Seattle or Spokane. We decided we wanted to come back here and be part of a growing, vibrant craft beer scene.”
A third partner – Dani’s brother, Will Spear – remained in Seattle and serves as chief financial officer. He also had a hand in the extensive renovation of the former industrial storage building near Gonzaga University, two blocks north of No-Li.
The 10-barrel brewhouse is visible through a large glass door separating the taproom. The knotty pine bar was made from an old barn door. A steel beam overhead has the brewery’s motto – “taste the road less traveled” – in cutout letters that let the light shine through after dark.
Softening the surroundings are hanging plants and flowers on the tables. “There were certain things where I wanted a girl’s touch,” said Dani, who tiled the immaculate restroom.
Along with the space itself, the Guthries love the location. “We’re very active people, so being right next to the Centennial Trail is ideal for us,” Brian said.
They plan to cater to bikers and runners in warmer weather with bicycle racks, picnic tables and fire pits, and will offer cycling-friendly containers for beer to go. Some beers likely will show up in 22-ounce bottles later this year, and eventually in cans.
While there’s no kitchen, they’re lining up food trucks for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Couple of Chefs has committed to Fridays, and plans to use some of the house beer in special dishes.
With 14 taps to fill, the lineup so far reflects the Guthries’ thirst for Belgian beers. The lightest is a dry, slightly fruity grisette (4.5 percent alcohol by volume, 18 International Bitterness Units), an obscure style traditionally favored by miners in southern Belgium.
“We’ve never seen it on tap anywhere,” Dani said. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to make it.”
On the farmhouse side, a standard saison (6.5, 39) shows spicy, earthy notes, along with aroma and some sharpness from blood orange peel. The darker Saison d’Rye (7.0, 30) has caramel flavors and a drying, peppery finish.
The latest addition is a rich, malty dubbel (7.2, 20) brewed with molasses and beet sugar. The strong, wintertime Saison d’Froid is up next, to be followed by the spring seasonal Plowed, accented with lemon peel. The Guthries are working with a Green Bluff farmer to source lavender for their trippel recipe.
Northwest styles also are part of the mix. First on tap is a smooth, citrusy India pale ale (6.7, 87) that combines Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe hops. In the works are a hoppy American amber, an imperial IPA and a lighter, more piney take on the style.
“Over the next few months, we’re hoping to have something new every week,” Brian Guthrie said.
Longer-range, an area in the back of the brewery is designated for barrel-aged and sour beers, which can take a year or two to condition – with often unpredictable results.
“It creates flavors you can’t get any other way,” he said. “That’s the kind of brewery I’ve always wanted to have, always experimenting.”
Another long-planned project, Zythum Brewing Company in Fairfield, is opening on Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m. starting this week. Look for a rye, porter and IPA along with a limited food menu.
• The seasonal Spring Reverb (5.4, 54) has returned at Twelve String, this year made with Mosaic hops. And on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., the Spokane Valley brewery will host a joint release party for Barili Cellars’ ruby port and its own Drop D Stout aged in the same barrel after the port was bottled.
• A straightforward True Stout (5.5, 55) at River City hits all the requisite roasted coffee, dark chocolate notes. Another taproom specialty, a dry-hopped Heritage English Pale Ale (7.1, 40), arrived Thursday.
• The Steam Plant is pouring a limited-edition raspberry ale (4.6, 10) using locally produced concentrate from Us Girls & Papa’s.
• Orlison’s new year-round Pilsner 37 (6.6, 61) is full-flavored with a citrusy kick from Amarillo hops. A portion of proceeds supports Team Gleason’s fight against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
• No-Li is rolling out Born & Raised IPA in 12-ounce four-packs, joining the Jet Star IPA and Wrecking Ball Stout.
Eat your beer
• No-Li’s spring brewers dinner on Tuesday offers a distinctive dessert: Brewer’s Breakfast coffee stout made with doughnut mix from Dawn of the Donut, accompanied by doughnuts infused with the beer. Cost is $55 (includes tax and tip); for details see nolispringbrewersdinner. eventbrite.com.
• The Lincoln Center is hosting a five-course dinner March 7 featuring Belgian-style beers from Post Falls’ Selkirk Abbey. Cost is $55; see selkirkbeer.eventbrite.com.
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